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Subject Headings Guide: Subject Headings Guide

Use this guide to help you determine the appropriate Library of Congress subject heading for a topic you are searching for. This guide can assist in locating books or other items you are having trouble locating using the catalog's regular search methods.

Determining Subject Headings

Often the most efficient way to search in the online catalog is by the subject heading assigned by the Library of Congress.  Sometimes these are easy to guess (for a person, it’s simply the person’s name); sometimes they aren’t (for example, for World War II it’s “World War 1939-1945”; for the  California Gold Rush it’s “California—Gold discoveries”).

Ask a librarian for assistance, or try this “quick and dirty” method to determine the subject heading: 


(1)   Do a “Title” search for your topic: 


(2)   Look at the “Results”: 


(3)   Choose one of the results and click on “Catalog Record”:



(4)   When you access the catalog record, note the “Subject” (in this case, “Inquisition—Spain”):



(5)   Click on the “Subject” link (or do a “Subject” search for “Inquisition Spain” from the main catalog page).


This gives you 25 titles—far more than a “Words or phrase” search for “Spanish Inquisition” would retrieve.


Your Librarian

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Arthur Robinson
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Ref. Desk 706-880-8957
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